Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Busy and Fresh Pasta Sauce Two Ways

My posting has been a bit sporadic lately. This is all due to one thing:

My garden has exploded. 

Everyday, she (yes, my garden is a she) presents me with baskets full of tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, yellow squash and zucchini. 

You would think that I would be overjoyed at these gifts. After months of seed coaxing, seedling planting, staking, weeding and watering, the fruits of my labor are now on my table... everyday:

But the sad truth is, I can't keep up. I have given away, frozen, canned, eaten, mashed and blanched myself into a dither. 

It doesn't help that I also have a habit of visiting every farm stand within a 50 mile radius of my home. I can't help it. I'm a sucker for any locally grown fruit and vegetable. Peaches, blueberries, corn, melons... oh my! 

I know the way Mother Nature works though. Just when I'm about to say "uncle".. my garden will stop producing. The road side stands will fill up with apples and pumpkins and then slowly close their doors until next year. 

So for now, I hole up in my kitchen, in 95 degree weather and can and freeze and blanche and cook and eat my way through this glorious season of plenty. 

Fresh Tomato Sauce Two Ways (one for eating, one for freezing)

Recipe #1
4 to 5 ripe tomatoes (I used plum and yellow because that's what I had)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup shredded zucchini (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced (chiffonade)
1/4 cup freshly grated (very small) parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper
olive oil

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling, salted water until the skins split (about 2 minutes) Remove to a bowl to cool enough to handle. 

Working over a large bowl to catch the juices, slip the skins off. Using a small paring knife, dice the tomatoes, throwing away the seeds. Squeeze the tomatoes with your hands to slightly crush. 

In a large pot, drizzle in some olive oil and saute the garlic just until fragrant. Add the crushed, diced tomatoes and zucchini* and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer. Add tomato paste, basil, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so. 

This simple sauce is ready to eat right now on some pasta. Leave it chunky and serve hot. Pass crusty bread on the side. 

Follow all of the steps above. After simmering, spoon the sauce (in batches) into a blender, puree. Be careful to put a kitchen towel over the top of the blender and hold the lid down. Don't fill it more than 1/3 full. Blend in batches until smooth. 

Pack into very clean, hot mason jars, allow to cool, put lids on and freeze. Remember to give your jars at least 3/4 inch head room. The sauce will expand when frozen and you don't want any broken jars in your freezer. You can also let the sauce cool and freeze in ziploc bags or any container you wish. 

When you defrost this sauce around January, you will get a taste of summer that will have you browsing seed catalogs all over again. 

Anyone out there having the same "problem"? I'd love to hear what you are doing with your excess garden output.. 

Don't have a garden? Don't forget your local farmers. They work all year to bring you the very best from their fields... why not pick up a bushel of tomatoes and make this sauce? I guarantee come January and February, you'll be glad you did! 

* A Cook's Notes: I like to sneak a little zucchini in my sauce. No one will be the wiser, you'll get the extra nutrient kick AND use up some of those squashes that seem to grow overnight! 


  1. I know just what you mean! I have a mountain of dinosaur sized zucchini on my table right now and tomatoes coming out my ears.

    Thanks for the yummy recipes!

  2. Ungourmet,

    I have breaded (panko) zucchini slices and oven fried just like eggplant. Yummy. Today I am testing zucchini / potato pancakes - I'll let you know how they come out... we gardeners and cooks must stick together, join ranks and tackle these mountains of produce!!!

  3. My mouth is WATERING! My garden is also exploding- ALL OF A SUDDEN. Mostly I just seem to have tomatoes and corn. And broccoli. My squash is FINALLY getting going so I am looking forward to that as well... but OH the TOMATOES! I will have to make this sauce!

  4. Jen,

    Isn't it amazing that when you look at your garden everyday, it's like "hey, grow"... then, leave for a few days or a week and OMG - everything comes in.. have fun with the sauce, it really is good.

  5. My garden isn't doing well this year. We have had sweltering heat, flooding rains, then very cool periods. I think it is confused. My peach tree yeilded about a bushel and a half and I have been dehydrating and freezing. A quart of sliced frozen peaches will make a tasty cobbler on a cold winters night.

  6. I feel so inspired to pick from my garden sweetie and your veggies look perfect. What a great post sweetie!

  7. I feel just the same way. The season of plenty is so hypnotic. I just. can't. stop.

    And then February rolls around and I'd kill to be back in this predicament. Grass is always greener, I guess!

  8. You are so lucky!! I wish I had room for a garden, and the sun needed to nourish it. Our little patch of earth is shaded most of the time. I have a hard time growing flowers. So I will live vicariously through you, and the farmer's markets. I will definitely make this sauce!

  9. Aren't you the lucky one! Everything looks beautiful and your tomato sauce is one for the books. It will be so worth it, in January!


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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